As we kick of the holiday season at Adelante Mujeres, we are giving thanks to our community of supporters! In the spirit we'd like to highlight the work of one of our stellar Adelante Volunteers, Barbara (Bobbie) Rodriguez. Bobbie has been involved with Adelante Mujeres since the very beginning, serving on the Board of Directors and in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) classroom.
AM: You were recently awarded Portland Monthly Magazine's Light a Fire award for Extraordinary Volunteer for the work that you've done with Adelante Mujeres. What did receiving this award mean to you?
BOBBIE: It was a wonderful chance to be able to showcase the extraordinary things that Adelante Mujeres does in the community. I was very touched and appreciative to receive this award and at the same time I know that I am just one of a group of very dedicated volunteers who give many hours to the various programs of Adelante Mujeres.
AM: From your time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in El Salvador to nearly a decade of service with Adelante Mujeres, the evidence suggests that you've always had the volunteering spirit. What was your very first volunteer activity?
BOBBIE: My first volunteer activities were at Coe College during two summers when I volunteered on the Navajo Reservation at Cornfields, New Mexico and near Ponce, Puerto Rico doing physical work projects and getting to know the community.
AM: Your professional career was spent as a kindergarten teacher - how have your professional and volunteer careers overlapped and influenced one another?
BOBBIE: I think that they were always interrelated. A kindergarten teacher gets to know the whole family of the child in their class. The parents are partners in their child's learning, so encouraging them to volunteer in class and to read with their child at home helps strengthen their child's learning experience. I valued the volunteers who helped me in the classroom over the years and understood their importance and the wealth of their experiences. I hope that I, in turn, can bring my experience as an educator to my volunteer work.
AM: What types of activities and tasks are you involved in as a volunteer with the Adelante Mujeres ECE program? Have these changed/evolved over the years?
BOBBIE: Over the years I have helped prepare materials for classroom activities and have really enjoyed getting to know the wonderful ECE staff.
As a volunteer with the Early Childhood Education program I have been involved in the Champions program and as a reading pal for children getting ready to enter kindergarten the following year. As volunteers we plan in pairs to work with the children each week.
Before that I worked on creating materials for the the Raising a Reader book bags that go home with the children every other week. The activities help the parents become more involved in their child's education and give them an opportunity to read and do an activity about one of the stories in the book bags.
Last year another volunteer, Jeanie Plumb, and I planned a workshop regarding transition from pre-school to kindergarten for the ECE staff. We had fun sharing activities for parents and children and the expectations of the neighboring school district's kindergarten programs.
AM: How would you describe the children you work with each day in just a few sentences?
BOBBIE: Every time we go to the classroom it is a joy to see the children eagerly asking their teachers "Do we go to read today?" That makes it all worthwhile!